In the last post in this series, I hit some of the essential points on why it’s important to have a life vision and focus.
Often times when we think of our “life calling”, we focus on our career or on our external circumstances, whether that be in the marketplace or in ministry. We are intently focused on thriving as a successful businessperson, a good mother or father, a good musician, or a successful pastor. Whether it be by others or ourselves, we are automatically defined as successful if we are good at these things.
Of course it’s not bad to focus on these things, but Jesus wanted to be clear that it was not to be our primary focus. Paul the apostle continually spoke to the early church encouraging them to focus on the things that mattered much more than the temporal things of life. Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) was so revolutionary to the hearers of the day because everything He said was in stark contrast to the teaching of the Pharisees and spiritual leaders of Israel. Jesus intentionally moved their focus from external issues to internal issues, from the hands and feet to the heart.
The climax of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5:48:
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:48 NKJV)
After taking 47 verses to reset the focus of His hearers, He gives the ultimate and highest calling for our lives. “Be perfect, just like My Father is.”
Before you throw in the towel and get discouraged because you know you cannot achieve sinless perfection, let me tell you what Jesus is really talking about here. He’s not saying “walk in sinless perfection”, but rather saying “walk in all of the light that you have been given by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, in His kindness, shines light on the issues of compromise in our lives and we are given a choice - to continue in compromise or obey God by renouncing darkness and repenting of our sin. So just as the Father walks in all of the light He has, Jesus is beckoning us to do the same. The attainment of victory begins by declaring war on all compromise, remembering that the pursuit of complete obedience is different from attainment of it.
The call to be perfect is a key to living vibrantly. When we refuse to obey even in a small area of our lives, the luster of God’s light on the inside will be diminished. Those with true repentance quickly renew their resolve to war against the sin they recently stumbled in.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
(1 John 1:7 NKJV)
This is the ultimate calling on our lives as believers – to become complete, mature, and blameless in our dedication and obedience to the Lord. It is an internal heart issue, so it’s critical to examine our lives to see if our externals - our time, money, energy, and resource - is being used towards this primary life calling. Our responsibility is to “contend” for complete obedience and then to rely on God’s grace to empower us to “attain” it. The pursuit of 100-fold, complete obedience includes making a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1), bridling our speech (James 3:2; Ephesians 4:29-5:4), managing our time (for service and prayer with the Word) and money beyond our comfort and honor (Matthew 6:19-21).
In the next post in this series, I’ll spend some more time talking about this issue, and the rewards the Lord has promised us as we pursue complete obedience as the most important issue of our lives.